Visiting Artists (Dance)

Visiting Artist: Christine Dakin

Christine Dakin is former principal dancer and former artistic director for the world-renowned Martha Graham Dance Company.

Dakin was selected as a Martha Graham principal dancer in 1976 and served as artistic director from 2002 to 2005. She is widely credited with leading the rebirth of the Company as artistic director and known worldwide for her performances of Graham's own roles and the principal roles Graham created for her.

Dakin was accompanied by pianist Louis Stewart who is an Associate Professor on the faculty of Berklee College of Music. Stewart's extensive theater and dance experience includes composing scores for LaMama Theater including his 1992 musical theatre work Cambodia Agonistes. He was pianist and assistant conductor with the Martha Graham Dance Company from 1971 to 1977.

Visiting Artist: Pascal Rioult

Former track and field star in France, Mr. Rioult came to the United States on a fellowship from the French Ministry of Culture to study modern dance in 1981. After performing with the companies of May O'Donnell and Paul Sanasardo he was invited to join the Martha Graham Dance Company. As a principal dancer, he interpreted many of the most prestigious roles in the Graham repertory and in 1990 Ms. Graham created the central role (Death Figure) in her ballet Eye of the Goddess for Mr. Rioult. He performed opposite Mikhail Baryshnikov and Joyce Herring in El Penitente and was featured in two television specials: Martha Graham in Japan and Five Dances by Martha Graham at the Paris Opera.

Since starting his own company in 1994, Mr. Rioult has dedicated his energies to forging and perfecting a choreographic style of his own, nurturing a robust ensemble of dancers, and growing his company, RIOULT. Of his work, Black Diamond, Anna Kisselgoff of the New York Times wrote, "...he has met the challenge of comparison with George Balanchine." Alain Cigolotti writes in Le Temps, France, "Pascal Rioult, before all, is one of the leaders of 'neo-modern dance.' His work is rooted in a tradition but open to the future. His style blends an acute sense of classical structure with a profound musical sensibility." Backstage referred to him as "One of the most adept and courageous choreographers in mainstream modern dance today."

Mr. Rioult's works have been commissioned by the American Dance Festival, Cal Arts (Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, CA) the Ballet du Nord in Roubaix, France, the Geneva Ballet, Switzerland, The Orchestra of St. Luke's, the Harriet and Gordon Greenfield Foundation, the Grand Marnier Foundation, the Théâtre de Saint Quentin en Yvelines, France, Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA among others.

Mr. Rioult has been awarded grants from the New York State Council on the Arts, the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, the Shubert Foundation, the Geoffrey C. Hughes Foundation, the Harkness Foundation, the Florence Gould Foundation, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Shana Alexander Charitable Foundation, Lila Acheson Wallace Foundation, and numerous others. He is a two-time recipient of the Choo-San Goh Award for Choreography.

Visiting Artist: John Gardner


John Gardner was born in Lafayette, Indiana, and began his ballet training at the age of 12 with Glen Ashton in Lafayette, and subsequently trained at the National Academy of Arts in Champaign, Illinois, under the direction of Michael Maule. He received a scholarship to American Ballet Theatre's School at the age of 16 and joined ABT's secondary company three months later, in 1977. In 1978 he joined ABT's main company and was promoted to the rank of soloist in 1984. Gardner's diverse repertoire included many soloist and principal roles, representing an extensive range of styles and giving him the opportunity to work with some of the great ballet choreographers of the 20th century, including Antony Tudor, Jerome Robbins, Agnes de Mille and George Balanchine.

In 1991 Gardner joined Mikhail Baryshnikov's White Oak Dance Project, affording him the opportunity to work closely with choreographers such as Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, Mark Morris, Lar Lubovitch and Martha Graham. Gardner created numerous roles during his time with the White Oak Dance Project and toured extensively in Europe, the United States, Asia and South America. He returned to ABT in 1995, where he danced a wide variety of roles with the company until 2002. In 2000, Gardner, together with his wife Amanda McKerrow, began working for the Antony Tudor Trust, staging and coaching his superlative ballet, The Leaves Are Fading, around the country.

During the course of his career, Gardner has achieved an excellent reputation as a master teacher and coach for ballet on both the professional and student levels, and has staged numerous ballets for professional companies and schools across the United States.

Visiting Artist: Amanda McKerrow


Amanda McKerrow is one of America's most acclaimed ballerinas. She has the honor of being the first American to receive a gold medal at the International Ballet Competition in Moscow in 1981. Since then she has been a recipient of numerous other awards, including the Princess Grace Foundation Dance Fellowship.

Ms. McKerrow was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and began her ballet training at the age of seven at the Twinbrook School of Ballet in Rockville Maryland. She later studied with Mary Day at the Washington School of Ballet, where she danced with the company for two years and toured extensively throughout the Untied States and Europe.

Ms. McKerrow joined the American Ballet Theatre under the direction of Mikhail Baryshnikov in 1982, was appointed to soloist in 1983, and became a principal dancer in 1987. Her repertoire includes: the leading roles in Cinderella, Don Quixote, The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, La Sylphide, and The Nutcracker. She has been acclaimed for performance s of shorter works by George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, Sir Frederick Ashton, Jerome Robbins, and Juri Kilian. Ms. McKerrow has created roles in ballets by choreographers such as Twyla Tharpe, Clark Tippet, James Kudelka, Agnes De Mille, Choo San Goh, and Mark Morris. She has also appeared as a guest artist throughout the world.

In 2000, together with her husband John Gardner, Ms. McKerrow began working for the Antony Tudor Trust, staging and coaching his superlative ballet The Leaves are Fading around the country. Ashe has also staged numerous other ballets for professional companies and schools across the United States. During her last ten years performing as a principal ballerina with the American Ballet Theatre, she spent as much time as she could working with students and young dancers. Upon her retirement from ABT in 2005, she has devoted the majority of her time to teaching and coaching this great art form that she loves so much.

Visiting Artist: Miki Orihara


Miki Orihara, a principal dancer of the Martha Graham Dance Company, began her training in Japan at an early age in traditional Fujima Japanese Dance. After graduating from Bunka Gakuin high school in Tokyo, she came to New York to study at the Joffrey Ballet School. Then received scholarships to study at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance.

In 1983 she became one of the original members of the Martha Graham Ensemble and thereafter shortly joined the Martha Graham Dance Company. She has performed with various other prominent companies and choreographers as well. These include Martha Clarke, Stephen Pier, Elisa Monte and Dancers, Jean Erdman, Marioko Sanjo, Jun Kono Dance Troupe (Japan), Buglisi/Foreman Dance, Twyla Tharp, and Robert Wilson. In 2001, she was invited to dance at the New National Theater in Japan. In 2006, she was a guest artist with Pascal Rioult Dance Theater for their France Tour.

As an individual artist, she premiered her solo work/performance "Searching Dimensions" (1995) in New York. Her recent works are "Passage", "Serious Garden" and "End of summer". These works were well received at their openings in Japan. In 2001, Ms. Orihara presented 8 women piece "VOICE" in Nagoya, Japan.

Ms. Orihara assists master teacher and choreographer Yuriko in her Graham technique classes, reconstructions and choreography. She has also been a guest teacher at UCLA World Arts and Culture Department, Atlanta Ballet, State University of Florida, Arts International in Moscow with Takako Asakawa, the Ailey School, the New National Theater Ballet School in Tokyo, and numerous other workshops and schools throughout the world. She is currently on faculty at the Martha Graham School.

In 2010, She received a Bessie Award for her contributions to dance.

Visiting Artist: Stephen Pier


Stephen Pier has achieved a uniquely rich and varied career as a dancer, teacher, and choreographer. His credits as a performer include many years as a principal dancer with José Limón Company where the New York press hailed him as, "...one of the most gifted dancers on the modern dance scene today."

Stephen went on to become a leading soloist with The Hamburg Ballett performing the title roles in John Neumeier's "Othello" and "Saint Matthew's Passion" and creating numerous other major roles during his nine years with the company.

As a member of The Royal Danish Ballett for six years, Stephen had the privilege of dancing leading roles in works of Bournonville, Balanchine, and Macmillan as well as collaborating with many of Europe's finest choreographers.

He was also invited to teach both the company and the school of the Royal Danish Ballet and served as ballet master for the company from 1992-1996. He has taught on the faculty of The Alvin Ailey School, the Martha Graham Center, Regional Dance America, New York International Ballet Competition and for many notable companies in Europe, America and Asia including The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Atlanta Ballet, Bat Dor, Introdans , and the New National Theater, Tokyo. He was on the faculty of The Juilliard School from 1996 to 2010 where he also directed the inovative Mentoring Program. Stephen continues to teach as a guest master teacher for companies and schools throughout the world including the Cedar Lake Cotemporary Ballet in NYC.

In 2004 Stephen began PierGroupDance to explore and collaborate with dancers and other artists and art forms. He has created over 30 works for the concert stage, opera, theater, and film. His work has been presented by The Hamburg Ballett (Germany), The Royal Danish Ballet (Denmark), Royal Danish Theater, Royal Danish Opera, Bat Dor (Israel), the New National Theater (Japan) , the Juilliard Dance Ensemble, The Di Capo Opera Company (NYC), Nilas Martins Dance Company, the Dance on Film Festival at Lincoln Center and Musuc From Japan. He was selected to be part of Jacob's Pillow Choreographer's Project in 1998. He co-founded and directed the emerging choreographer's workshop, "Danses", at the Royal Danish Ballet 1990-1996

In September 2008 Stephen started a 3-year tenure as Director of Visions and Voices: Altria/ABT Women's Choreography Project at American Ballet Theater

In Februry 2010, Stephen was appointed Director of the Dance Division of The Hartt School at the University of Hartford, CT.

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